Embracing Shabbat in the Wake of a Massacre

When eleven Jews were murdered on a Saturday morning at the Tree of Life synagogue in 2018, Abby Schachter—a Pittsburgh resident, albeit a regular at a different congregation—found herself in a taxicab in Manhattan. Thereafter, she resolved to cease traveling by car, plane, or the like on the Sabbath. She writes of this decision:

Walking on Shabbat is just one way to mark a fault line. It is a means of delineating the sacred space of Shabbat as separate from the rest of the mundane week. The observance of Shabbat is filled with such separations and designations.

At first, changing behavior can be uncomfortable, and especially when it comes to religious observance, it can seem downright strange. I don’t think about walking in connection with the Tree of Life massacre anymore, if I ever did. Our Shabbat experience changed because of the shooting, but that does not mean it remains uppermost in my mind on any given Saturday.

Instead, not driving on Saturday has become as integral to my family’s experience as anything else we do to mark the separation from mundane weekday to holy Sabbath. It has also altered our community relationships, because we are invited more often to the homes of fellow congregants for lunch after services. Others have told us their door is open to us if we get caught in the rain walking home or need a glass of water or to rest. On some occasions, we’ve stayed longer at synagogue to enjoy an afternoon program or to visit with our friends. When the weather has been particularly forbidding, we’ve stayed home entirely and spent time together as a family.

One of the more beautiful aspects of Judaism is how it offers us the possibility of meaningful change. Walking on Shabbat is another step on the road to a deeper and richer Jewish life.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Judaism, Shabbat, Synagogue


How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus